A Beginner’s Guide to Setting Up and Using Siri on your iPhone

Follow this beginner’s guide to start using Siri on your iPhone today. There’s so much it can do!

By Stacey Butler - Senior Staff Writer
5 Min Read

Siri is the intelligent personal assistant built in to iOS and other apple devices. It can be used to look up information such as weather forecasts, sports scores, stock prices, and calendar events and reminders, call or text people, read your email messages, turn some settings on and off, open apps, play music, control your home, and more. In addition, Siri can perform some tasks in third-party apps if the developer has implemented support. Activating and setting up Siri on an iPhone is a simple task. All you need is a few spare minutes and a quiet environment to get you started.

This beginner’s guide will tell you the steps to activate Siri on your iPhone, how to use it, and what you can use it for. I will also go in detail of the Siri Settings. Let’s get started.

How to Set Up Siri on Your iPhone

Before you can start using Siri on your iPhone, you need to make sure that it’s enabled. Here’s how to do so:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap Siri & Search, then do any of the following:

    • If you want to activate Siri with your voice: Tap “Listen for,” then choose “Hey Siri” or “Siri” (if you have that option).

    • If you want to activate Siri with a button: Turn on Press Side Button for Siri (on an iPhone with Face ID) or Press Home for Siri (on an iPhone with a Home button).

How to activate Siri on your iPhone

You can activate Siri on your iPhone in any of three ways:

  • The easiest way is to just say “Siri.”

  • Alternatively, you can say “Hey Siri.”

  • Press and hold the Side button on an iPhone with Face ID or the Home button on an iPhone with Home button.

When you do one of these things, a glowing circle of light appears at the bottom of the screen, indicating that Siri is awaiting your question or request.

If you say nothing, Siri will go away after about ten seconds. So you have those ten seconds to ask a question or make a request.

Change Siri settings on iPhone

In addition to Hey Siri, there are a number of important settings to check in Settings > Siri & Search:

  • Press Home/Side for Siri: Toggles home or Side button access to Siri on or off.

  • Allow Siri when locked: Allows you to decide if Siri can be used if the screen is locked.

  • Language: Allows you to change the language of Siri.

  • Siri Voice: Allows you to choose from a variety of accents and voices for Siri.

  • Siri Responses: Allows you to change when Siri gives or does not give spoken feedback.

  • Call Hang Up: Turn this on to allow you to ask Siri to hang up a call in progress. Note that the other parties on the call can hear you make the request to hang up.

  • Announce Calls: When enabled, Siri will speak the contents of caller ID when the phone rings.

  • Announce Notifications: When enabled, Siri will automatically announce incoming notifications from apps like Messages and Reminders.

  • My Information: Allows you to put your name in Siri’s memory.

  • Siri & Dictation History: Allows you to delete all past interactions with Siri associated with your Apple ID.

  • Messaging With Siri: Offers settings to allow Siri to send messages without confirmation, and a setting to enable Siri to read text in more languages.

  • Other settings: The other three sections in Siri & Search: Before Searching, Content from Apple, and Suggestions from Apple, are all related to Siri Suggestions. When these options are toggled on, Siri will provide personalized suggestions based on your on-device behavior. This includes suggesting websites, apps, and giving recommendations. For instance, if you check the weather every morning at a particular time, Siri will automatically prompt you on the screen to open the weather app at that time each day.

Learn Some Useful Siri Commands

Siri understands more commands than I can list here, and not every Siri command is the most efficient way to complete a task. Here are some of the ones I’ve found to be useful:

  • Identify songs: While a song is playing, activate Siri and ask what song is playing. If Siri finds a match, you can tap the notification to see the song in Shazam (which Apple owns), which can then reveal the song in Apple Music.

  • Make phone calls: You can use Siri to place phone calls, which is especially handy while driving. Say “Call contact’s name ” to initiate a call (if your contact has multiple phone numbers, Siri asks you which one to call—or you can preempt that step by saying “Call Jim Smith’s iPhone”). When you know five different people called Jim and one of them is your significant other, it can be a bit of a hassle when you call or text them using Siri. To fix this problem, you can say something like, "Hey Siri, Jim Smith is my boyfriend." The next time you want to contact these people, you can ask Siri to call your boyfriend, and it’ll reach out to the right person.

  • Remind me to…: You can tell Siri to remind you of things, like “Remind me to take the trash out Tuesday night,” but what I’ve found even more useful is telling Siri to remind me to do a task when I reach or leave a destination. For example, “remind me to feed the dog when I get home,” or “Remind me to get gas when I leave.”

  • Read web Articles: In Safari, there’s a cool ‌Siri‌ feature that allows the personal assistant to read a web article to you. As long as a site has Reader View available, you can say "‌Siri‌, read this to me" to have ‌Siri‌ read the content on the page. There are playback tools, so you can fast forward, pause, resume, and rewind from the Lock Screen.

  • Search photos and videos: You can use Siri to search for photos and videos by time or location. For example: "Show me photos of Fenway Park," or "Show me videos from December 25, 2018." Photos recognizes objects, so you can say something like, “Show me pictures of water.” If you have set up the People part of the Photos app by naming your family members and friends, then Siri can help you find photos of the people in your life and camera roll. Combine their name with a date or location to narrow your search, such as "Show me photos of Jim and me in Iowa."

  • Set an alarm: There are several ways to set an alarm. You can say something like, “Set an alarm for 7 A.M.” before bed. Or when you lie down for a nap, you can say, “Wake me in an hour.” Slightly more complex alarms can also be set, “Siri, set an alarm for 8.45 am that repeats every Saturday.” You can also say, “Delete my alarm,” to view a list of alarms to delete.

  • Set a timer: I use this all the time in the kitchen. Tell Siri to set a timer for however many hours, minutes, or seconds you need. You can say something like, “Hey Siri, set a 3-minute timer.”

  • Find sports info: You can use Siri to find scores, schedules, and more about your favorite teams and leagues. Say something like "What were the baseball scores yesterday?" or "What was the score for the last Red Sox game?" or even "Show me the baseball games for today."

  • Go home: If you’re in unfamiliar territory and just want to go home, say “Siri, take me home” (assuming you’ve set up Siri to know where your home is.

FAQs

How do I make Siri go away if I accidentally triggered her?

You can either stay silent, and she will eventually go away herself. Or you can say “stop” or “go away” which pretty much does the same thing.

How do you get Siri to swear?

Siri will never swear. If you ask her to, she will politely say she is not allowed to. The same goes for dirty jokes. She will refuse.

Can you change Siri’s name?

No, it is currently not possible to change her name.

How do I disable Siri entirely?

If you decide to shut Siri down entirely, just go into the Siri & Search settings on your iPhone, and toggle off all related settings.

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By Stacey Butler Senior Staff Writer
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Stacey is a senior staff writer at GeeksChalk and has been writing about Apple for nearly a decade. She covers all things Apple for GeeksChalk, including iPhones, iPads and Mac. Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Stacey is often found hiking precarious landscapes or tinkering with a camera.
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